In this blog, i want to explain what i go through with my meltdowns. My meltdowns are mainly caused by bad people experiences and interactions, and sudden loud harsh noises. They can also be caused by me making a mistake. Or by accidently bumping my nose or parts of my face. Or by bumping into a wall. Or the wind blowing through open car windows and blowing my hair all over the place. Any sudden change or environmental thing can set me off into a meltdown.
When i have a meltdown, i will often rock and hit myself and shake my head back and forth. I will, at the same time, moan, groan, wail, and start saying different words and phrases over and over. Some of the words and phrases i make up have a definite meaning to me as to how i am feeling at the time of my meltdown, but to others, these words and phrases sound random and don’t make any sense. Here’s an example: when i had C as my caregiver, whenever she would get harsh with me, i would start to meltdown, as described above. She would often react by abruptly leaving the room, and leaving me to meltdown, leaving me thinking she was angry at me. Usually, though, she would come back after abut 10 or 15 minutes, and we would talk it out. But in the last month before she quit, she began to get in more and more harsh moods with me, so i began to refer to her as a rough washcloth over and over and over, whenever she would say things that would upset me. The reason for the phrase “rough washcloth”? Was because my grandmother used to have washcloths that were always so hard, stiff and rough, and she would would run a hot wet one all over my face when i was little when she would wash my face—-and oh, i hated that!!. C’s harshness reminded me exactly of my grandmother’s rough washcloths, so i would tell her “You’re being rough washcloth….being rough washcloth….being rough washcloth” and i would say it over and over again while rocking back and forth, and hitting my arms, because she, C, wouldn’t listen to me….to get her to stop being harsh with me.
Some of my meltdowns are quiet, but some are very loud. When a loud car or motorcycle roars and screams through past my house, and they don’t stop gunning their motors….i will yell, scream and curse, till my voice gives out, while hitting myself. When they do loud burnouts across the street at the auto shop, it really sets me off!!
During another meltdown, i ripped all of the nice nice scenic pictures i had on my walls here in my living room all down because my ex-friend G who used to live next door to me, upset me really bad one time. I threw them, and a bunch of books i had, out on my front lawn, as i cried. G used to upset me alot when he lived next door, and it would always take having my mom call him to get him to rectify things between us again.
When one of my past caregivers upset me really badly in November of 2012, i went on a meltdown that lasted the whole night…it began by me getting the duct tape and putting two pieces of it on my mouth and i posted several pictures of me with the duct tape on my mouth, with a poem “For Those Who Don’t Understand”, on FB, then i did a long video about what happened, and then i picked up my scissors and went into my bathroom, with hot tears of hurt streaming down my face, and i punished myself by chopping off all of my beloved red hair….because of how mean that caregiver got with me. I posted another video of me with my newly chopped off hair, explaining what i had done and why. Then i grabbed the nice red shirt i was wearing, and ripped it to shreds with my bare hands. That was how distressed i was that night. So, yes, people things especially, can hurt and trigger me very badly, when ppl are just downright mean, it hurts way deep inside of me, and it is like the whole world has caved in on me. And i have had so many people in my life turn against me and turn mean towards me…..that i now have nightmares almost every night and day when i sleep…..and i now have deep trust and abandonment issues.
During a meltdown, i will often lose my ability to talk in full sentences, and sometimes i will babble and not make sense. My words that do come out, will come out fragmented. It is important that people around me do not yell, lecture, or scold me during a meltdown as that will only make it escalate. It is better to remain calm, and ask me “Is there something i can do to help you?” Or, “Did i do something to upset you?” If i say yes, allow me the time it takes to calm down to tell you, and then let’s talk things out, and if possible, do what you can to either remedy the situation that caused the meltdown, or suggest alternative solutions to me.
I am Autistic, for those of you who are reading this who don’t know, and i only have so much self control when i am having a meltdown. The way our meltdowns manifest, can’t be helped. However, i am not violent in the sense that i will ever hurt others during a meltdown!! I do happen to do alot of yelling, screaming, moaning, groaning, and cursing and i am more likely to self-punish during a meltdown. I am able to hold my meltdowns in for a while, depending on the situation, but then it does come out sooner or later. I will sometimes hit my face too, but i mostly hit my chest over my heart, and i will also bite, scratch, and hit my arms.
Sensory overload is very hard for those of us who are Autistic, to control. It isn’t like we are doing this on purpose or choosing to do this. This is what a meltdown can look like. I am hoping one day to be able to record my meltdowns so ppl can know what goes on with me when i am having one.
Also, a meltdown happens usually due to sensory overload, or if we are triggered, or someone upsets us. What i am describing above, is a meltdown, not a temper tantrum. It’s important to know the difference between meltdowns vs. tantrums.
I am here to tell my story and by telling my story, i strive to educate ppl what it’s like, in my own voice, so they understand that we #Autistics are real human beings with feelings, that we matter, that we have a voice, and that we are wired differently. Because of this, we process everything much differently than neurotypical ppl do. We are more hyper-sensitive to the environment and world around us.
We are not the tragedies and burdens and monsters that organizations like Autism Speaks portray us to be. We are not wrong. We are not damaged or broken. We endeavor to show the world that all we want is to be accepted, loved, and included, to be a part of our communities, and to not be fixed, cured, and eradicated.
Many of my meltdowns happen when ppl misunderstand, don’t listen, and talk over me when i want to talk and explain things, and then they go onto judge, assume and condemn me. Then turn their backs on me. Or they knowingly and purposely do things that they know are triggers to me, and they mock, and make fun of me. if ppl get angry at me and walk out on me, that is a huge trigger for me. Because i am deathly afraid of being left alone, stranded, to fend for myself.
I hope that this blog will be read and shared far and wide. Because this is important. Please listen, learn how our minds work, and learn our language too. Let us talk and tell our stories. Let us be ourselves. Let us stim. Learn how we like and don’t like for things to be, and accomodate us. Accept us. Include us. Because. We matter!!